SHAWNEE - In front of a raucous 3,252 fans on a Saturday night, the Oklahoma Baptist football team clawed back into their contest against Henderson State after a tough first half, but ultimately fell just short to the Henderson State Reddies, 35-28. It was the first contest under the lights at Crain Family Stadium at the Hurt Complex.
Oklahoma Baptist went for 409 yards of total offense including 286 through the air. On the other side, Henderson State used a deep passing attack in the first half to rack up 507 yards including 357 through the air. The Reddies had 25 first downs to OBU's 21 while Henderson had a slight advantage in time of possession at 30:18 to 29:42.
Henderson State would take the opening kickoff and march 73 yards in seven plays, leading to a Logan Moragne 15-yard run for the early 7-0 lead. After the ensuing OBU drive stalled, the Reddies struck in one play as Richard Stammetti reared back and found L'liott Curry for a 57 yard score and a 14-0 lead.
The Bison offense was out of sync in the first quarter, unable to get much going especially on the ground. Henderson State took advantage as the game moved into the second quarter as Stammetti hit Curry again, this time from 43 yards out, as OBU found themselves in a 21-0 hole.
The OBU offense began moving as they used some short plays to pick up a pair of first downs. Preston Haire then connected with Jacques Henderson for a 17 yard gain down to the HSU 11 and put the Bison in business for points. One play later, Haire connected with Noah McGraw for a five yard score to cut the deficit to 21-7, capping a seven play, 44-yard drive.
Stammetti continued his impressive first half and added to his numbers as he found Preston Jefferis for a 33-yard score and the lead was back to three scores.
However, with 4:30 remaining in the half, the OBU offense went to work as Shae Garner got involved. Garner hauled in a 35-yard pass from Haire to put the Bison on the HSU 36. Haire moved it inside the 20 with some completions and had OBU in business, desperately needing a touchdown to carry some momentum into half.
Haire found it on a 3rd and 14 as he threw a perfect pass over the HSU defense and into the hands of Garner, who just got a toe down, for an 18-yard touchdown to cut the deficit in half at 28-14 going into the break.
The Bison started with the ball to start the third quarter and suddenly the offense was clicking as Haire found Joshua Cornell for a first down followed by a nice rush by Isaiah Mallory to midfield. Haire dropped back and found an opening in the defense, racing 50 yards to paydirt and suddenly making it a one score game 28-21, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The OBU defense proceeded to get a 3-and-out and suddenly the momentum had swung to the Bison. OBU got into Henderson territory, but the drive eventually stalled. OBU did get a huge punt from Hayden Ashley, downing HSU on the 2-yard line. The Reddies responded with a 14-play drive, but the Bison defense held strong and forced a field goal, which was missed from 45 yards out by Temo Martinez.
Again the Bison got into HSU territory behind a 21-yard completion from Haire to Cornell, but the drive stalled at the HSU 36 as OBU went for it on fourth down.
Both teams exchanged possessions moving into the fourth quarter, but Henderson got the ball back and finally struck to give themselves some distance as Stammetti found Curry for a third time from 25 yards out for a 35-21 lead.
OBU put some drives together, but could not cash in when they needed it the most. Finally, the Bison got it to one score with 23 seconds left as Haire found Cornell from four yards out. The ensuing onside kick, albeit a great look from Luke Wendl, just trickled past the outstretch OBU arms and out-of-bounds, giving the Reddies the chance to kneel out the clock and escape Shawnee with a win.
Haire went 26 of 43 for 286 yards and three scored. He also added five carries for 57 yards and score. The running attack struggled for OBU with Tyler Stuever leading the way with 15 carries for 42 yards. Cornell had a career-day, going for eight catches for 128 yards and a score. Garner added seven catches for 73 yards while McGraw and Henderson each caught three balls.
Stammetti led HSU, going 21 of 32 for 357 and four scores while Curry caught 8 passes for 178 yards and three scores. Moragne added 101 yards on the ground on 15 carries.
Defensively, Josh Arnold was everywhere, going for 12 tackles and a sack while Myles Russell added 10 tackles. Eryk Preston, Jr. had six tackles while Will Kohman and Lane Martin each had five. Tyler Rhodes added a sack in the contest.
For Henderson, Colby Turner led the way with 13 tackles while Jake Chatman added nine.
Ashley was terrific in the punting game. Despite only averging 38.6 yards/punt, Ashley downed HSU inside the 20 four times and had a long of 49 on the evening.
OBU moves to 0-1 on the season and will look to bounce back next weekend as they hit the road to Arkansas. The Bison head to Magnolia to take on Southern Arkansas next Saturday at 6pm.